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Maxwell Technologies Reports Strong Demand for Ultracapacitor-Based Energy Storage Solutions for Wind Turbines

Maxwell Technologies Inc. reported that sales of BOOSTCAP ultracapacitor products for wind energy applications through the first three quarters of 2010 are running more than 40% ahead of wind-related sales in the same period last year, and estimates that more than 13,000 BOOSTCAP-equipped turbines are now in operation worldwide.

Maxwell now is supplying BOOSTCAP cells and multi-cell modules to several wind energy system integrators and turbine OEMs in Europe, Asia and North America. Ultracapacitors provide burst power for electrical blade pitch control systems that enhance the consistency of wind turbines’ electrical energy output and ensure that rotor speed remains within a safe operating range by constantly adjusting turbine blades to compensate for changes in wind velocity. Ultracapacitors also provide an independent source of backup power for orderly shutdown in the event of a main system power failure and are used to smooth the flow of wind farms’ output to the electric utility grid.

An estimated 60% of newly produced wind turbines employ electrical blade pitch systems that incorporate ultracapacitors or batteries for pitch control and backup power, according to Maxwell. The remainder employ hydraulic systems that do not require ultracapacitors or batteries. Ultracapacitors have been designed into an increasing share of the electric pitch system portion of the market because of their longer operating lifetime, low maintenance requirements and superior cold weather performance compared with batteries.

Industry sources report that approximately 38 gigawatts of new wind generator capacity was installed in 2009, bringing the total worldwide installed base to nearly 160 gigawatts. From 2005 through 2009, the industry maintained an annual growth rate of more than 30%, and it is projected to continue growing strongly through the balance of the decade.



At an anual growth rate of 30% (even in times where wind carbon isn't yet taxed), it is clear that we will not take long before we will have all the energy we may ever need from wind energy. a sustained growth of 30%/year results in 13 times after 10 years, 190 times after 20 years, 2600 times after 30 years. Obviously, we will not produce 2600 times as much wind-energy within 30 years as we do now, but even if it's much less, its more than we could ever need.

as Albert Bartlett said :
"The greatest shortcoming of the human race is our inability to understand the exponential function."


When coupled with Hydro power (or other energy sources that can be easily varied) wind power can be very reliable and sustainable. Our Province is almost 100% Hydro (40,000+ mega watt). Another 40,000+ mega-watt is being harnessed on an as required basis. North-Eastern States and neighboring Provinces are buying more every year. High quality winds in unpopulated adjacent areas have a potential for 95,000+ mega-watt. That would be enough clean energy for 100% electric residences for everybody, 3 to 4 BEVS per family and 50+% (or 80,000+ mega-watt) left for export.

I doubt that we will ever be short of Clean sustainable e-power.

Dave R

@HarveyD - Unfortunately, there isn't much (any?) hydro capacity being built these days so capacity there isn't likely to grow enough to handle all the wind/solar going on to the grid.

Not to mention that hydro is far away from many wind farms.

I think that large scale batteries will become prevalent to smooth out wind/solar and help stabilize the grid - see large demonstration projects being performed my utilities like Xcel who completed their first phase of testing with a 1MW 7MWh battery attached to a 10MW wind farm.


@ Dave R,

There is much Hydro being China and South America. China has something like 80Gw of capacity under construction. Those long rivers coming out of the Himalayas allow them to build multiple dams on the same river.

@ Alain,
There is much room for increase in wind power production, but you can't extrapolate too far. The very best sites are being built out first, and the later sites will be less productive, or more costly to develop, which either way slows growth. Also, it's harder to grow 30% a year on a bigger, for many reasons, wind power capacity will not continue at these growth rates.


If the rivers which flow into James Bay are reversed which is being considered 14 TW of hydro electric generating can be brought on line.

The only problem is the Spinach Party will put a stop to this project as well.

Account Deleted

At 30% growth new annual wind power installations will total 403GW in 2018 (38*(1.3^9)). 403 GW of wind power compares to about 105% of all the additional power needed globally in 2018 assuming a wind turbine capacity factor of 25% and an annual growth in global electricity consumption of 3.34%.

Healthy breeze is right that it is going to be very difficult for the wind industry to keep growing at 30% and when the industry reach 400GW per year nor will there be much need to grow that industry any more apart from the 3.34% to keep up with global growth for electricity.

The most important factor that will help the industry to maintain its high growth rates until the 400GW level is reached is the fact that new wind power technology keeps reducing the kWh price of wind power at a faster rate than all alternative forms of electric power generation. In about 2020 no other forms of power generation will be able to compete in price per kWh with wind power. Expect 2 to 3 cents per kWh for new wind turbines at that time. The only thing that prevents wind power from growing to 100% of all electricity generation globally is the increasingly high cost of dealing with the intermittency problems from wind power production. That problem could be solved to a very high degree with the invention of very low cost rechargeable batteries, such as, lithium batteries at 100 USD per kWh that can cycle 3000 times implying an electricity storing cost at 3.3 cents per kWh.

Inexpensive wind power and rechargeable batteries is all the planet need to solve its most important problems of global warming, pollution and many security problems. I know inexpensive wind power is coming within a decade but the question is whether cheap batteries are coming. A recent white house report (see link below, page 7) projected that the 100 USD per kWh battery should be possible by 2030.


Hydro potential is highly exploited in USA and in most of EU (12% of the world) but there is a lot left to do in the rest of the world (88%). We have the tendency to judge the world by our own environment.

Hydro is one of the rare clean power source that can be varied as required while accumulating unused power into their huge water reservoirs. Wind and Sun power plants cannot do that unless very expensive batteries (or other energy storage units) are installed.


I think it's more correct to say conventional "Hydro potential is highly exploited in USA and in most of EU."

And remember with pumped hydro storage you DON'T need to dam a river. A river is only needed in conventional hydro to replenish the reservoir because it only uses the water once. In pumped hydro you can use the same water over and over again so all you need are two reservoirs built at different levels, you can even use old mining shafts.

We've been building water towers for centuries, maybe it's time to teach that old dog a new trick.


sorry, try this link

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